Alan Jette, professor of health law, policy & management, chaired a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee analyzing the use and effectiveness of assistive products and technologies: the Committee on the Use of Selected Assistive Products and Technologies in Eliminating or Reducing the Effects of Impairments.
The committee published its report, The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation, on May 9.
The report discusses how adults use selected assistive products and technologies, from wheelchairs and prostheses to hearing and speech devices, and how effective they are for enabling people with disabilities to work. The report also looks at how environmental and personal factors can create additional barriers to employment. Only 41 percent of working-age individuals with a disability reported being employed in the 2010 census, compared to 79 percent without a disability.
The report “presents a sobering picture of the challenge our society faces in fulfilling the promise of assistive technologies in mitigating the effects of impairments,” Jette says, “and in supporting people with disabilities to remain or reengage in the workforce.”
Jette says the report also shows how mismatches can occur between the products covered by Medicare and other insurers and the products that would best meet the needs of users. He says the committee’s analysis found getting the right device is vital, as is receiving the right fitting, training, and follow-up. The report says new assistive devices and technologies are advancing faster than reimbursement systems and clinician education.
The Committee on the Use of Selected Assistive Products and Technologies in Eliminating or Reducing the Effects of Impairments was part of the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences, and was sponsored by the Social Security Administration. The report was published by the National Academies’ Press.
Read the full report here.